The Lonely Planet guidebook mentions several times how overwhelming Bangkok is, but I didn’t really see that until yesterday. The streets are crowded, the traffic is wild, and the tuk tuk drivers are reckless. It is amazing to turn the corner and see a towering wat (temple) from the 1840s and to climb the wat and see half a dozen more wats from different eras surrounding you. However, it can be stressful to get from place to place and some “friendly” Thais spend a lot of time trying to scam you out of a few baht.
In spite of the stress, we had a full, exciting day. We started off walking towards our first destination and stumbled upon Wat Ratchanatdaram, which is an Indian style temple with a spiral staircase leading to the top of the main spire. From there, we located the Golden Mount, which was an even longer climb with an even better view. Along the way, you could ring bells and bang on giant gongs, which in Buddhism is said to help the ringer accumulate positive karma. (B would have liked the gongs.) After all of that climbing, I had a Thai iced tea and Jess got a Thai iced coffee, both of which were delectably sweet because of the added sweetened condensed milk. I was terribly excited about that beverage.
After a harrowing tuk tuk ride, we arrived at MBK, which is a gargantuan eight-story mall. We barely looked at the shops and stalls because we were headed straight to the 6th floor for the food! A friend had recommended the international food court. Although it was essentially the same as other food courts in quality, the quantity and variety of foods was definitely noteworthy.
After lunch, we walked to the Jim Thompson House. Jim Thompson was an American expat who had a huge influence on the Thai silk trade until he disappeared mysteriously in the jungles of Malaysia. His silk became popular after it was featured in the movie The King and I. His traditional teak stilted house was filled with his collection of art and antiques.
Next we stopped by Ruen-Nuad Massage Studio for Thai massages. The studio was very clean and peaceful and the masseuses were very sweet. Thai massages mainly involve pressure and alignment, but very little rubbing (just a bit on the shoulders).
Our second to last stop of the evening was dinner in Chinatown. After a few wrong turns due to traffic and construction madness, we made it to the swarming neon streets of Chinatown. It was tough to navigate such a busy place, but we found a shared table in a slightly quieter alley at which to eat our dinner from a few street carts. We ate potent garlicky glass noodles with shrimp and cilantro along with fried gyoza, and sipped on some pomegranate juice.
Finally, we returned to Khaosan Road because Jess was eyeing a shirt she had seen the night before. A few drops of rain fell, but it was minimal- much less than I expected on this trip so far! There is tons to do here in Bangkok but I must admit, I am looking forward to a little peace and quiet in Chiang Mai tomorrow.